Losing a Loved One to Cancer
- Helen Mirren, 76, and her husband Taylor Hackford, 77, are mourning the tragic loss of their son, Rio Hackford, who battled a rare type of melanoma.
- The 51-year-old husband and father—remembered lovingly by fellow actors Vince Vaughn and Renee Zellweger—was known for his role in the 1996 cult film Swingers, and most recently starred in FX’s American Crime Story and Hulu’s Pam & Tommy.
- Uveal melanoma is a disease that forms in the tissue of the eye. Unlike melanoma of the skin, uveal melanoma is not caused by UV rays from the sun. The cause of this disease is still being studied by researchers.
“Helen and I are both inspired by the life of our son and stepson … and heartbroken by his loss,” the film director wrote in a statement. “His life showed us how to live in generosity and community.”Read More
Mirren posted a tribute to Rio on her Instagram page with the simple caption, “El Rio,” alongside a picture of her stepson with a beaming smile.
The congenial talent was adored by many in his field, including his Swingers co-star Vince Vaughn and Oscar winner Renee Zellweger. “As loyal and funny as anyone could be. Rio was the best ever. Truly one of a kind,” Vaughn shared, while Zellweger described him as “a titan of kindness, love, class, courage. And cool. A legend.”
Rio died of uveal melanoma, “a very aggressive and rare form of cancer,” according to the family. “We would beg everyone reading this to get their eyes tested at least once a year which might save their loved ones from this cancer.”
The husband and father is survived by his wife Libby, a musician, and their two children. Rio passed at his home in Huntington Beach, Calif. on Thursday.
Learning About Uveal Melanoma
A lot of people don’t realize it, but you can actually get cancer of the eye. So, eye health is another area that we should all be monitoring. Uveal melanoma is a disease that forms in the tissue of the eye. Unlike melanoma of the skin, uveal melanoma is not caused by UV rays from the sun … the cause of this disease is still being studied by researchers.
Dr. Sapna Patel from MD Anderson Cancer Center talked to SurvivorNet in a previous interview about this rare cancer.
“It is a disease that happens the most frequently in Caucasians and it happens in patients with hazel, green, or blue eyes more frequently than brown eyes … though we’re not clear of the mechanism that protects darker iris individuals from melanoma,” Dr. Patel said.
Dr. Patel urged that everyone should get their eyes dilated every year. “Even if you don’t need corrective lenses or glasses, contact lenses … it’s still important to have your eyes dilated and examined for physical changes such as melanoma or moles in the eye.”
Possible risk factors for uveal melanoma include:
- Light skin and eye color
- Strong family history of cancers
- Personal history of cancer
- Certain mutations that cause familial uveal melanoma, such as BAP1, PALB-2, MBD4, or NF-1
- Choroidal nevus, a type of lesion in the back of the eye
- Ocular melanocytosis, another type of lesion in the eye
Even though the disease is rare, Dr. Sapna Patel, a melanoma oncologist at MD Anderson Cancer Center, recommends getting regular check-ups to monitor for uveal melanoma.
If you do have any of the risk factors above or notice any changes in your vision, be sure to see an ophthalmologist as soon as possible. Early detection is key in treating any cancer—including uveal melanoma.